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Wayne Shorter

One of the most original of all jazz musicians, whether as a tenor and soprano saxophonist or as a composer, Wayne Shorter has always used his own fresh ideas to create new music that is unpredictable but ultimately logical. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1933, Shorter started off on the clarinet when he was 16, soon switching to tenor. He graduated from New York University in 1956 and was briefly with Horace Silver before being drafted. After two years in the Army, he had a short stint with Maynard Ferguson’s big band, meeting Joe Zawinul (who was playing piano with Ferguson) for the first time. As a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers during 1959-63, Shorter played opposite both Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard, contributed originals, and became the band’s musical director. While inspired by John Coltrane, Shorter always had his own sound, which became more original as the 1960s progressed. He led a few albums for Vee Jay and cut several classics for Blue Note, including Night Dreamer, JuJu, Speak No Evil, The Soothsayer, Et Cetera, The All Seeing Eye, Adam’s Apple, Schizophrenia and Super Nova. Miles Davis, a fan of Shorter’s since the early 1960s, tried to lure him from the Jazz Messengers for several years. In September 1964, Shorter finally joined the Miles Davis Quintet, staying six years and making history with the group. His originals, which appeared on Davis’ studio records, helped push the trumpeter in a new direction, particularly such numbers as “E.S.P.,” “Pinocchio,” “Nefertiti” and “Footprints.” Shorter began doubling on soprano sax in late 1968, which fit very well with Davis’ music as it evolved from a nearly avant-garde version of postbop into early fusion. Shorter left Davis in 1970 to join Joe Zawinul as co-leader of Weather Report. While his role with the band eventually became secondary to Zawinul’s, Shorter’s sounds on soprano and tenor were indispensable to the group’s success. While he did not record much as a leader during this era, Shorter’s Native Dancer matched him effectively with Milton Nascimento on modern Brazilian music. He also played with V.S.O.P. in the late 1970s which was a reunion with the Miles Davis mid-1960s rhythm section and Freddie Hubbard. After leaving Weather Report in 1985, Shorter had a lower profile for a time but has been more active since the mid-1990s. Wayne Shorter recorded duets with Herbie Hancock, guested with various all-stars and in recent times led an impressive quartet with Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade.